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Harsher fines help clean up air

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Jun 16,2015 8:01 AM     China Daily

Environmental protection authorities have reined in polluters by using the “teeth” of regulations and laws to levy record fines in the first four months of the year, prompting polluters to clean up their acts, a senior environmental official said.

As a result of that move and other efforts to curb pollution, air quality nationwide has witnessed continued improvement, a new report said.

In May, the air quality of China’s 74 major cities improved, with the major airborne pollutants reduced greatly, based on the monthly air quality report released on June 15 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

For example, Beijing has seen the concentration of PM2.5-particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns that are harmful to health-reduced by 22.2 percent from that in April, the report said.

In the first four months of the year, the environmental protection bureaus nationwide have imposed daily fines on 160 polluting companies totaling 1.12 billion yuan ($180 million), and more than 1,180 polluters had been concealing their production facilities, the ministry said.

The new Environmental Protection Law, regarded as the toughest measure against pollution to date, which took effect in January, imposes stiff penalties on polluting companies, including its stipulation that polluters must pay daily fines for violation and without a ceiling on the total.

The cases in which companies were punished with daily fines in March and April are 515 percent higher than they were in the first two months after the new law was implemented, said Zou Shoumin, head of the monitoring bureau under the ministry.

Environmental authorities have transferred 429 cases to judicial organs in the first four months.

A thermal power plant in Wuhan, Hubei province, received daily fines running up 2.1 million yuan by the time the company quickly installed new facilities to control pollution.

The largest daily fine has been levied on a coal chemical company in Xianyang, Shaanxi province, with the total reaching 15.8 million yuan.

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